09 March 2009

Green Beret becomes first amputee to complete Jumpmaster Course

Sgt. 1st Class Mike Fairfax, left, a Special Forces intelligence sergeant with Operations Detachment, 3rd Special Forces Group, inspects a Soldier's parachute while performing duties as a safety aboard an aircraft over a drop zone above Raeford, N.C. Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Jason Baker.

Late last year SFC Mike Fairfax became the first amputee Soldier to complete the Jumpmaster Course, paving the way for other amputees.

The majority of the course focuses on the jumpmaster personnel inspection. The sequence requires the jumpmaster to squat or bend down to visually inspect the jumper's equipment. Most jumpmasters will go into a deep squat during this portion as, going to a knee will take more time to get up and continuing the inspection.

During the final test students are required to properly inspect three jumpers and in five minutes find all deficiencies and conduct the inspection in the exact inspection sequence. For Fairfax his only option was to drop to a knee.

For fellow students in the course this would be the only clue that he was missing a leg. "Most guys saw him kind of limping around, but didn't know he was missing a leg," said the noncommissioned officer in charge during the course, Master Sgt. David West, from 2nd Bn., 3rd SFG.

"It wasn't until our first rotation in the (JMPI) circle and he dropped down on the concrete slab. It made such a loud sound all the guys turned and looked. The crack was so loud it sounded like rounds were dropping in. One guy asked him 'did that hurt' and he responded, "no, I don't have a knee."

For most Soldiers, when they join the Army there are a set of schools they set their eyes on as goals to complete. Schools like, Air Assault, Ranger and Pathfinder. For any airborne qualified noncommissioned officer, the natural goal would be the Jumpmaster Course. ...

For Fairfax, this journey began the summer of 2005 in a remote region of Afghanistan when his truck was struck by an improvised explosive device.

You gotta read the whole thing.

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